A California bill regarding artists' rights to audit royalties passed the state Senate today (July 1) and has gone to the office of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for his signature.

A California bill regarding artists' rights to audit royalties passed the state Senate today (July 1) and has gone to the office of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for his signature.

The bill, SB 1034, authored by Sen. Kevin Murray (D-Los Angeles), is severely truncated from its original form, when it would have made it a ficuiary obligation for record companies to accurately account for artist royalties. As passed, the bill simply establishes a statutory right for an artist to audit once a year or hire an auditor on a contingency basis, or gives several artists the right to hire a single auditor to conduct multiple audits on their behalf.

The original bill would also have required the record company to provide an auditor with all specified records that relate to the audit and pay for auditing fees, legal fees, interest on royalties and treble damages in circumstances in which the audit shows that more than a specified percentage of royalties were not paid to the artist.

The RIAA lobbied for a year against the fiduciary duty and provisions such as the one that would have required labels to pay legal costs. The provisions were struck from the bill that passed the Assembly last month.

The American Federation of Television & Radio Artists, eager for progress in recording-contract and accounting reform, supported the measure and called the bill a first step.